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Dec 11, 2013

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Peacoat!

Friends, I never thought I'd say this, but I'm starting to like tailoring!

The trick, for me at least, is to work slowly.  I'm actually forcing myself to stop relatively early in the day so as not to push through this project too fast.  I'm trying not to go more than four hours at a time (On some projects I've sewn twice that.).

A few details:

My undercollar, which I'd steamed and left to dry overnight wrapped around my tailor's ham, is now beautifully shaped.

I'm taking the time to pre-shrink my hair canvas and twill tape.  Is this really necessary?  I don't know, but in the scheme of things it doesn't take that much time.  Better safe than sorry, right?

I chose not to padstitch my lapels because I want them soft rather than rigid.  I still did all the basting of my hair canvas to my coat fronts, as well as to the pocket edges (plus catchstitching edges to shoulder and side) and have added twill tape to stabilize the edges of my lapels.

The book I find myself using more than any other is "Tailoring: The Classic Guide to Sewing the Perfect Jacket."  It's written at a level that suits my sewing experience.  I recommend it, though it's certainly not the definitive tailoring book.

I may treat myself to a copy of "Vintage Couture Tailoring" by Thomas Von Nordheim.  Are you familiar with it?

There's still a lot to do.  I'm going to draft my own lining pattern as I had a few problems with the peacoat lining the first time around (which I made following the Japanese pattern book).  I haven't decided how much structure/support I need at the shoulder -- I hadn't planned to add shoulder pads, but I may add a thin one to help support the sleeve.  Likewise, I may add a layer of light sew-in interfacing to the sleeve cap area; still some research to be done about that.  The tentative plan is to have my buttonholes done at Jonathan Embroidery this coming Friday, which means I have to attach my facings tomorrow; we'll see how it goes.

Readers, that's all for now.  I feel like I can see the light at the end of the tunnel -- almost.

Have a great day, everybody!


  1. Peter, it's looking wonderful! Great idea, using twill tape to stabilize the edges of the lapels.

  2. If you are liking tailoring, here are some short videos for you (ps: I do love WATCHING tailoring, go figure)

    Some of them are here, but you have to dig a little:

    and of course:

  3. It's addictive. Once you start, all other sewing seems like "little projects" :-) And I use the same book all the time. It may not be the only one, but it captures all of the high points.

  4. You're doing such beautiful work. I do think that preshrinking is necessary - it can't hurt. You never know how things might look after a trip to the drycleaners.

  5. I really admire your patience. I wish I was a less compulsive, hurry up sewer.

  6. I don't know if the same changes apply to menswear, but Grainline Studios has a great tutorial on how to create lining pieces for a suitcoat, jacket, or coat. I used it on my latest coat and everything came together beautifully.

    Tailoring isn't that bad, is it? I tailored my Lady Grey coat and love how it turned out.

    Your coat is going to be fabulous and last a long time.

  7. Good work. You have a pretty average shoulder slope but i would recommend the shoulder pads, just to add a bit of support should your pattern require it (not sure of it's shape) otherwise it may collapse a bit.

    My tailoring instructor used this book to reference some of the tailoring techniques; it's short and easy, not overly complicated.

    Good luck with the coat!

  8. I vote for shoulder pads of some sort. I think you'll be happier with the end result.

  9. Looking good!

    If there's one lesson I've learned it's to take my time. Don't rush now even if it means the buttonholes won't get done this week.


  10. Impressive undercollar!!!

  11. The coat's looking great Peter! Seeing you make a coat inspires me to make one for myself!

  12. Looks absolutely fantastic so far - great so far. Some little shoulder pads might be good, definitely wouldn't hurt to pin some in and see. I actually quite like how the unfinished collar looks in the first photo - it has a nice element of deconstructed symmetry to it. I hope you continue to enjoy the process. Your final jacket will look great! Rachel :-)

  13. I was lucky enough to find a 1964 copy of this book for almost nothing in a thrift store:

    It's very extensive and sort of chronologically goes through the entire process of making a coat, with detailed explanations of all the possibilities at every step. It sure lessened my fear of tailoring! I'll be using it a lot when sewing my first 'real' coat.

  14. You are moving right along. I like that tailoring book, too, it is one I can really understand.

  15. Looking great. Definitely support the shoulders with pads - even thin pads will help everything hang beautifully.

  16. It's coming together beautifully ... your patience is paying off for sure. I'm guessing Michael is looking on from the peanut gallery (Hi Michael!) wishing it was his. :-)

  17. It is looking mighty good. I love how as a group, I feel like most everyone in the sewing community who started as a beginner is finally finding a rhythm and really stepping up to a higher level of sewing.

  18. I've always hated tailoring, but you make me want to sew a coat for the hubby. I really appreciate that you are walking us through it step by step, and I am going to look for that tailoring book too....

  19. Hi Peter - moving along very nicely. Taking time to do fine handwork is actually relaxing once the learning curve is over. BTW, what did you use to steam your collar? A steamer or an iron? It turned out beautifully. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I blew steam out of my Black & Decker steam iron. (I pressed the seam between collar stand and undercollar first.)

  20. Every time I'm in the throes of a tailoring project I ask myself in a self-pitying tone of voice, "WHY am I doing this?" But there are moments along the way and at the end when I say to myself, 'THIS is why!"
    I have Vintage Couture Tailoring by Thomas von Nordheim. I remember referring to "Finishing the back of the buttonhole" on pp.150-151 for a linen jacket (or was it the wool coat?) last spring and appreciating the clarity of the photos and instructions. I'm going to read this cover to cover in the next month.
    Definitely get a copy of this for yourself; you will use it.

  21. Beautiful work! The end result will be worth it, I am sure!!

  22. I like tailoring too. It's interesting sewing and the satisfaction rate is high. The end results are really worth it since I could never afford something made that well.

  23. Wow, it looks fantastic! I love the undercollar.

  24. great work Peter, looking forward to see the finished project
    greetings from Rotterdam


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